If Test cricket is the highest pedestal for international cricket, Ranji Trophy is the equivalent in Indian domestic cricket. Come 9th December, the Ranji Trophy will be underway and 10 Rajasthan Royals players will be in action for over a month. All the 10 have contributed heavily in the past for their state/city teams, and they are key members in the squads. Let’s take a quick look at these Royals’ First Class records and what we can expect from them in the Ranji Trophy. Sanju Samson: Kerala Runs: 2945 50s: 11 100s: 9 Sanju has a prolific record for his state team, Kerala. His conversion rate is quite boastful in this format. He won’t be with Kerala for their first game, as he will be with the Team India squad for the West Indies T20Is. However, once he returns, he will be a major force with the bat, and behind the stumps with the gloves. Shreyas Gopal: Karnataka Wickets: 184 5-fers: 6 Runs: 2431 50s: 9 100s: 4 While Shreyas may not get ample opportunities to bat in T20 cricket, he is a proper all-rounder in the longer formats. With over 2000 runs in his kitty, Karnataka’s vice-captain provides stability to the lower middle-order and grind the opposition bowlers out with his sound technique. We all know how devastating he can be with the ball. Mahipal Lomror: Rajasthan Runs: 1410 50s: 8 100s: 3 Wickets: 28 5-fers: 1 It has been a good year in domestic cricket for Mahipal Lomror. The 20-year old can adapt quickly to a change in formats. He will be switching from T20 mode to four-day mode, and has the temperament to play the patient game. He can also be handy with his left-arm orthodox during the latter half of these matches. Varun Aaron: Jharkhand Wickets: 163 (includes Test matches) 5-fers: 6 Jharkhand have been consistent performers in all forms of domestic cricket over the last few years. Varun Aaron is a senior member of the team’s set-up and he leads the fast bowling department with sheer pace and swing. With fitness under his belt, Varun Aaron will go all out and look to make the ball talk during the tournament. Jharkhand’s batting-heavy line-up will benefit from some explosive starts that Aaron can provide with the ball early on in the innings. Riyan Parag: Assam Runs: 80 50s: 1 Parag is still young in his Ranji career. Having played just 4 games for Assam, he has a lot to prove in this format. Riyan had some brilliant outings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy & the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy over the last couple of months. The 4-day format will be a good challenge for Riyan to test his temperament and get some massive runs next to his name. Opportunities with the ball will come by in abundance as well for the 18-year old. Manan Vohra: Chandigarh Runs: 1481 50s: 8 100s: 3 Having played all his First Class cricket for Punjab, Manana Vohra finds himself playing for a new team in the tournament, Chandigarh. He captained the team well in the limited overs competitions, but Ranji Trophy will be a different ball game. As an opener, Vohra will look to set the tone with the bat for his team, while as a captain, he will put on the tactician hat throughout the tournament. He will look to lead Chandigarh to an impressive start. Shashank Singh: Chhattisgarh Runs: 313 50s: 1 Shashank Singh is the other Rajasthan Royals man to switch teams. From Mumbai, to a sole game for Puducherry, to moving to Chhattisgarh, Shashank has finally found his calling in domestic cricket. He was impressive with both bat and ball during the one-day and T20 tournaments. He will switch his focus to red-ball cricket with the onset of the Ranji Trophy. With consistent chances waiting for him, Shashank will be a cricketer hungry to perform. Ankit Rajpoot: Uttar Pradesh Wickets: 189 5-fers: 8 The newly traded Royal, Ankit Rajpoot has been the mainstay for Uttar Pradesh for years. He is approaching 200 First Class wickets, and will look to get them in the bag early in the tournament. Rajpoot’s ability to swing the ball can help Uttar Pradesh get some early breakthroughs and send the opposition on the back-foot early. Rahul Tewatia: Haryana Runs: 163 Wickets: 8 Rahul Tewatia is an established T20 cricketer for Haryana. He has played just 6 First Class matches for the state. Playing primarily as a leg spinner, Tewatia claimed 8 wickets and scored 163 runs. Given a chance, the all-rounder will look to cement his spot in the playing XI. Mayank Markande: Punjab Wickets: 40 5-fers: 3 Runs: 217 50s: 2 Mayank Markande has had a good breakthrough season for Punjab last year. In 10 games, he picked up 40 wickets at an average of just 22.3. Markande has been in good form in the limited overs tournaments this year. He will look to maintain his good First Class record and conquer a pile of wickets once again for Punjab. 10 exciting Royals will give their best in the most prestigious domestic competition in the country. The number should go up after the IPL auction, and we can’t wait to watch these Royals win games for their sides.
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